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Out back: in a concealed Sydney garden, an extension brings new life to a small family home.

Increasing the volume of a family home by three-fold is a tall order, especially on a tight urban site. Queensland architect Rex Addison faced this challenge when commissioned by Australian photographer Patrick Bingham-Hall to extend his family home in the somewhat unfamiliar territory of inner-city Sydney. With an established reputation for working with traditional house forms, Addison sought a solution that--to use his own musical analogy--would form a harmonious duet. A solution that would not attempt to sing the same words or follow the same tune, but instead would empathize with and take cues from the original structure in pursuit of a richer ensemble.


The original structure, a modest timber-framed cottage dominated by a pyramid roof, occupied the front half of a gently falling rectangular site. To this, a new verandah--originally conceived by Eeles Trelease Architects, but later executed by Addison--was wrapped around the cottage's three exposed elevations, leading to a new entrance at the rear of the site. As the lands falls away from the street, the verandah forms a raised entrance terrace behind the cottage, overlooking a sunken court neatly and intimately defined by the new timber and metal three-storey extension.


In response to the dominance of the original roof, and to celebrate the notion of roof forms as shelter, Addison's new spaces emerge from within the original form. On axis with the crown of the pyramid, a new pitched roof shelters the uppermost bedroom suite that runs along the site's southern boundary. This in turn shelters the living spaces on the entrance level which are set back, and the basement level photography suite which recedes even further behind the staged projections above. By adding these new forms, which while dominant in scale, yield to the prominence of the cottage, Bingham-Hall's house now exploits extensive views across the harbour. Conventions of front and back are dissolved as the house turns away from the street to address the city beyond, with only the new blank gable being visible from the street above the existing trees.


Internally, care has been taken to continue the notion of shelter and containment by moulding space to provide unique and intimate spaces. With warm tones of timber, Addison has worked within the geometric possibilities associated with the typological forms of gables, hips, eaves and valleys. Interlocking volumes exploit complexities that are derived from the constructional logic of making roofs and overhangs, rather than being forced and made to work. Light wells, alcoves, a fireplace and stairs all occupy residual space between the bedrooms and the boundary wall, and the chamfered gable end of the master bedroom resonates within the living room with a dropped ceiling providing a quirky twist--a slightly more reasonable gesture perhaps than the less convincing radiused sweep above the dining area. In reworking and elaborating this traditional house form with dynamic tilts and folds, new and old now comfortably co-exist.



Addison Associates, Brisbane


Patrick Bingham-Hall




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Title Annotation:Addison Associates designs family house
Author:Gregory, Rob
Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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